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BarBQ Plaza’s Unlimited Refill Is A Meat-Lover’s Dream

Mookata, commonly called Thai-style barbecue, comes from the words mu (pig/pork) and kratha (pan/skillet). Believed to have been inspired by Mongolian and Korean barbecues, the concept was first popularised in Thailand – and has since spread across Southeast Asia. In Malaysia, you will find many mookata joints, usually non-halal, that serve pork, seafood and meat, to be sizzled on a dome-shaped pan oiled with lard. All the juices from the grill then drips down into a shallow, surrounding ‘ring’ around the edges of the pan which contains soup – essentially flavouring it with whatever you’ve cooked and giving you an umami bomb unlike any other. Also, hotpot + grill in one? Genius idea.

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While mookata joints are now a dime a dozen in Kuala Lumpur, one of the pioneers to enter the Malaysian market was BarBQ Plaza. They have not waned in popularity ever since, and currently have 18 outlets across Peninsular Malaysia, including one in IOI Mall Puchong. H and I came here for a late lunch after work, and since we were both famished after skipping breakfast, we decided to go for their All You Can Eat Refill promo, which is only available on weekdays.

A1 Foam Board_Refill 2020 September

There are two tiers: the Super Refill (RM46.90 for members, RM49.90 for non-members) lets you order everything on the menu, while the Happy Refill (RM35.90 for members, RM39.90 for non-members) gets you items on the bottom only. Personally, if you’re on a budget, I think the Happy Refill is good enough, but if you like a bit more variety, then the Super Refill is worth the extra 10 bucks. Both sets come with a ‘starter’ of either pork or beef; and then you can add on whatever you want, no limits. Drinks and desserts are also included, although you’re basically just limited to honey lemon, green tea, coke and ice-cream.

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H and I were on a mission: to satisfy our pork cravings. So we started off with the pork set, which came with a side of udon and some vegetables.

The thing about BarBQ Plaza is that the meat is always sliced really thinly (so that it grills easier), but that also means that you rarely feel satisfied, and it always leaves you wanting more. With unlimited refill, you get 90 minutes to pack as much protein as you can.

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The restaurant gave us generous amounts of lard to oil the surface and ensure the meat doesn’t stick.

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I know it’s super unhealthy (which is why you should eat this once in a blue moon, or for celebrations!), but I highly recommend getting the Mozzarella Bacon. The cheese sticks to the pan, so I suggest grilling one side of the bacon first before putting the topping on the other side, so you get nice, crispy edges and a gooey centre. Speaking of which, I like my bacon to be chewy rather than crispy, which the Hubs deems blasphemous. How do you like your bacon?

(Also pictured) Cheese tofu, smoked duck, regular bacon, pork slices.

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To break the monotony of meat, we also ordered squid and a couple of seafood items like clam, prawn and fish. They were out of everything though, except for the squid.

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Round 2: More Mozzarella bacon, more smoked duck, and Thai-style pork. There’s barely any sauce though so we couldn’t really taste the ‘marinade’.

BarBQ Plaza’s in-house special sauce is really something. I’m not even sure what they make it from, but it’s like crack lol. Especially when you add in garlic. It’s sweet and savoury, and helps to cut through the greasiness so you can eat more.

Now, I know that buffets sell you the illusion that you can get your money’s worth, since you’re basically limited to how much you can eat – but most people can’t eat that much, and buffets have done that calculation. How else are they going to turn a profit?

This time, though, I think it’s score one for Eris and H. Our bill came up to RM55 per pax, and I felt like we ate our money’s worth lol. It’s a shame about the seafood items. They also didn’t have dessert. Pro tip: come at 11AM; that way you can avoid the lunch crowd and they wouldn’t run out of items.

That being said, there are a couple of things that the IOI Mall outlet can improve on. They were understaffed, with only 2 servers on the floor, so it took some time for them to serve our tables whenever we requested for refills. Also, instead of telling us that some of the items had run out, the first server simply brought whatever they had out – so we kept thinking they had forgotten the items and kept ordering them on our next chit.

BARBQ PLAZA (IOI MALL PUCHONG)

Lot FS09- FS11, 1st Floor, IOI MALL, Jalan Puchong, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Business hours: 11AM – 10PM (daily)

Review: Unlimited BBQ @ Rocku Yakiniku, 1 Utama Shopping Centre Petaling Jaya

What’s better than barbecue?

UNLIMITED BARBECUE. 

There’s nothing like the sizzle of fresh meat as it hits the grill, and the glisten of oil and juices over beautifully marbled slices of pork belly. You get all that, and more, at Rocku Yakiniku, a popular Japanese-style barbecue (yakiniku)joint located within 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Bandar Utama Petaling Jaya. 

Video here. Scroll to the bottom to read more details!

This is actually my second time here (the first was with my junior writer and we were too busy eating to take pictures, lol). Since it was S’s birthday, I decided to treat him to a meal. We thought the resto would be super busy since it was a Saturday, but it was surprisingly empty. Not that we’re complaining!  The interior is upbeat, casual and cosy, with cool Japanese-themed murals decorating the brick walls. There is a stage at the centre where they have music performances in the evenings.

Service was prompt and friendly. You can choose from the Platters (beef, pork and seafood – good for if you want to try a bit of everything) or opt for individual orders. The red meats such as lamb and beef are flown in from Australia and New Zealand.

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The buffet corner has a limited selection of items, which is fair since most people come here for the grilled items anyway. There’s the sauce station where you can mix and match your own dips, such as yuzu chilli, sushi shoyu, chilli sauce, and more. I recommend the spicy miso – savoury with a spicy kick; great with various grilled meats.

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For carb lovers, there’s fried rice, sushi rolls, udon and stir fried noodles, alongside chawan mushi, tofu and fried snacks like chicken wings and hash browns.

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While the charcoal grill was being heated, we got a couple of snacks to nibble on. Udon had a nice sweetish flavour and good texture, hash browns were greasy but tasty, but AVOID the chicken wings – they were obviously fried way earlier and the batter was rock hard.

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Meats are grilled over a charcoal fire, which I think is better at producing that charred, smoky taste compared to gas fires.

For starters, S and I went for a seafood platter and pork platter. The seafood platter came with squid, mussels, saba (mackerel), butterfish, shrimps and scallops, while the pork platter had 3 pieces of pork shoulder, pork belly and bacon slathered in a marinade. There was also a piece of lard for us to grease the grill.

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Portions were generous and hearty, especially the shrimps and the butterfish slices.

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Grilling in progress

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One thing about BBQ is that you really have to work for your food 😀

Everything was fresh and tasty. S liked the bacon slices which had a sweet, smoky flavour. Even better if you get a piece of pork belly, slather some spicy miso onto it, put the meat onto a piece of lettuce and eat that whole, as the veggie helps to cut through the fattiness and grease. Shrimps were sizable, which was impressive seeing how difficult it is to get large-sized shrimps at many establishments these days.

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The scallops were served in aluminium foil bowls and heated up til they bubbled merrily. There was also a dash of egg yolk(presumably quail) in the broth.

Personally, being a seafood lover, I really enjoyed the squid and butterfish, which like its namesake, has a buttery texture and just melts on the tongue. Kinda like fatty tuna.

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Round 2 of our orders saw more bacon, more pork belly, and lamb shoulder. This was the only ‘meh’ item we had because the meat was really lean and ended up being dry.

Drinks are ordered separately, but an economical choice would be the green tea which is served in a jug for RM3 and can be shared among a group.

Our lunch for two came up to RM120, which was pretty reasonable for a barbecue buffet. If you come on weekday afternoons, it’s RM39.90++ per pax.

Rocku Yakiniku has another outlet in Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur.

ROCKU YAKINIKU (1UTAMA Branch) 

F.355, F.356 & F.357, First Floor, Rainforest, No. 1, Lebuh Bandar Utama, Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Opening hours: 11AM – 11PM (Daily)

rocku.com.my

Food Review: Korean BBQ @ Apple + Samgyupsal, Bandar Puteri Puchong

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Apple + Samgyupsal – they have several branches in Kuala Lumpur and around the Klang Valley – but never had the chance to try it out until recently. C and I felt like having meat, so we headed to lunch at their Bandar Puteri Puchong branch.

As the name suggests, the restaurant specializes in apple-based dishes, and their specialty is barbecued pork wrapped in apple slices and eaten with onions, garlic, gochujang sauce and kimchi.

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I like the red colour scheme and fairy lights; they go well with the sleek metallic tables and minimalist decor. Each table has its own exhaust fan to suck away the smoke. Service is prompt and friendly, and they use charcoal for the barbecue process.

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Our sharing platter for two (RM88) came with 120g Apple Samgyupsal (pork belly), 120g Apple Moksal (pork neck), 120g Apple Hanjungsal (jowls), apple wraps, tteok (rice cakes), homemade sausage and apple salad. The meats are all marinated in a special apple based mix, then smoked over apple wood chips for extra flavour and aroma.

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Staff helped us to grill and cut up the meats.

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The way to enjoy the meal is to place a piece of meat on the thin apple slice, place some onion rings + garlic + kimchi and a dollop of gochujang sauce, then pop it into your mouth. The apple’s slight hint of sweetness balances out the savoury flavour of the meat and sauce, although I still prefer eating it with fresh lettuce and rice.

The meat cuts that were served during our visit were fresh and tender, except the pork belly slab which was a bit on the fatty side ie too much fat, too little lean meat. The sausage was well spiced and tasty, while the grilled rice cakes had a crispy exterior and chewy insides.

All in all, I’d rate it as an above average K-BBQ experience, and the portion was just right for two medium to big eaters. We had quite a lot of leftovers, so we had it to go.

Banchan (side dishes) are refillable – the fish cakes are commendable! Would recommend larger groups to get the most bang for your buck, as they have set menus for 5-6 people.

APPLE + SAMGYUPSAL (Bandar Puteri Puchong branch) 

2, Jalan Puteri 2/6, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 12PM – 12AM (Daily)

Phone: +603 – 8052 6768

applesamgyupsal.com

Review: BBQ Plaza, IOI Mall Puchong

Love barbecue and hotpot? You can have the best of both at BBQ Plaza, a popular mookata chain with various outlets across Malaysia.

Originally from Thailand, mookata (or mu kratha – literally pan/skillet pork) combines a Korean-style raised barbecue plate with a Chinese-style hotpot on the edges. BBQ Plaza is one of the pioneers of this style of cooking in Malaysia, although now it’s quite easy to find mookata everywhere.

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The bro wanted to treat us, so we went to the branch in IOI Mall Puchong. The place is always packed for dinner, so be sure to go early!

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Spacious interior with exhaust fans over each booth for ventilation.

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Service was fast and efficient. While we were lining up they were already taking our orders to speed up the process. Difference between this and the recent unpleasant experience at Yuan Le is like heaven and earth.

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Supreme Pork (Family Set) came with thinly sliced pork, bacon, chicken, shrimp, assorted hotpot goodies like meatballs, crab meat sticks and tofu, butterfish slices, shrimp, squid, fish paste noodles, udon and vegetables.

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We also added on a Bacon with Mozzarella (no pic coz too busy eating lol) which was DA BOMB – although the cheese had a tendency to get stuck on the grill. I suggest scraping the cheese off first, grilling one side of the bacon then topping the other with the cheese.

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Everything was fresh and tasty! Loved how thinly they sliced the pork, and there was a nice balance of lean and fat to accommodate different tastes. The portions are enough for a family of 3 – 4 if you add rice.

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Part of the fun of BBQ is the cooking process – watching the meat sizzle, inhaling the aroma, before finally rewarding yourself with a slightly charred, smokey piece of meat.

Our meal came to a total of RM102, plus drinks and 6 bowls of rice between the four of us. Pretty reasonable for such a setting.

  • Food: 4/5
  • Ambience: 4/5
  • Staff: 4/5
  • Price: Rm100+ for family of four

BBQ PLAZA (IOI MALL PUCHONG BRANCH) 

Lot FS-09 – 11, IOI Mall Puchong, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 11.30AM – 10PM (daily)

Food Review: Chiang Mai Mookata & Thai Street Food@ Skypod Square Puchong

UPDATE: This outlet is permanently closed.

Moo-kata, or Thai style barbecue, is all the rage these days: judging by the increasing number of outlets popping up in and around the Klang Valley. What I like about it is that you can barbecue AND boil your food on the unique stove at the same time! My first experience with it was in Phuket in 2015. I. Was. Hooked. Even today, I can still recall the taste and experience (read on my Phuket Mookata experience: here)

Local foodshow HoChak recently featured this place in Puchong called Chiang Mai Mookata & Thai Street Food, so the fam and I went to try it last weekend. We expected it to be crowded since that’s usually how it is after a foodshow introduces a resto, but it was relatively quiet during our visit. SkyPod/IOI Business Park itself is usually deserted anyway lel. 

Moo and Pops decided to skip on the Mookata (??? why?) and opted to have single portions of green curry chicken and braised pork with rice. The bro and I shared a set, which is good for two.

Sorry I don’t have better pictures – we sat outdoors (which was dark) because the ventilation inside wasn’t so good. The platter consisted of thin slices of marinated pork and chicken, sizable shrimps, pork balls and fake crab meat sticks and bacon, as well as veggies, vermicelli and an egg. The meat tasted decent after grilling, albeit a little salty/peppery. Thick chunks of lard (the white stuff on the plate) are used to oil the grill.

I’d recommend adding on the bacon wrapped enoki mushroom 🙂

Washed everything down with a glass of Thai milk tea.

The food was decent but it took forever to cook because the burner was really small and it was windy outside. But then again, meals like these are best enjoyed at a slow pace.

Damage for two rice meals + the mookata set + drinks = RM100.

CHIANG MAI MOOKATA PUCHONG

G-13, Skypod Square, Persiaran Puchong Jaya Selatan, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47100 Puchong, Selangor.

Opening hours: 11AM – 11PM (Daily)

Phone: +60386014505

facebook.com/pg/chiangmaimookataa

BBQ Plaza, The Mines

For my ‘farewell’ lunch, the colleagues treated me to a meal of mookata / Thai bbq at BBQ Plaza, The Mines. Unlike traditional bbq, Thai-style has a shallow pot with a protuding hotplate in the middle so you can grill and boil things at the same time.

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We ordered the mixed family set (good for three small eaters) – which came served with a variety of meats, such as lamb, beef and pork + a tray of assorted goodies, including fish slices, shrimp, squid, fish noodles, chicken, bacon, pork balls and loads of veggies. The cabbage is refillable.

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Looks like a lot, but actually isn’t. Or maybe I’m just a big eater. The meats are very thinly sliced for easier grilling, but that also means it’s not very filling. Guests can opt to add on garlic fried rice to go with the meal. Tastewise, everything was okay – good but not great. I think it’s more of the novelty of being able to grill/boil at the same time.

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This was my favourite dish: Cheesy Bacon-wrapped needle mushroom and asparagus. The veggies on the inside were soft and mushy, complemented by the crisp and crunchy bacon on the outside, which had just the right amount of fat and lean meat. I had two plates 😛

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Marinated grilled pork belly. Fatty but good. Then again, it’s the fat that always tastes good, hm?

Our meal came up to RM120. Pricey, but we also ordered some add-ons of pork belly/pork slices.

BBQ PLAZA (Mines branch) 

L3-30, Level 3, The Mines,

Jalan Dulang, Seri Kembangan.

Opening hours: 10am – 10pm (daily)

Huo Lu Ai Korean BBQ, Setiawalk Puchong

Update: This restaurant is permanently closed. 

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Had an urge to go swimming over the weekend. Our National Aquatic Center is closed until 2017 (!?) in preparation for the Southeast Asian games. Boo, because that’s the closest public swimming pool to my house. Thankfully C was in the mood, so we went to her apartment at Koi Kinrara. They have an infinity pool that looks over the Puchong skyline. Pool was quiet in the evening and weather was perfect.

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We negated all the calories we burnt from swimming by having dinner at Huo Lu Ai, a Korean BBQ joint in Setiawalk, Puchong. Each table had an exhaust to suck up the smoke, and a grill for cooking. Guests can opt to have the food cooked in the kitchen, or have a server cook them at your table.

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Korean music played in the air. The wall was also papered over with posters of Korean boybands.

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I was in the mood for noodles, so I ordered the Korean Spicy Noodle. I’ve seen the Korean Spicy Noodle Challenge online, so I was worried as to how spicy the dish was gonna turn out…but it was fine. Had to down cold water a couple of times but the spice level was manageable.  Noodles were springy, well-flavoured and cooked with slices of carrot, chilli, onion, spring onion and garnished with a side of nori (seaweed).

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Also ordered the Kimchi Pancake. These are best eaten hot. They were not too oily, and I really liked the crispy edges.

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We got two grilled dishes, which come served with banchan (side dishes) like pickled radish, stir-fried spinach and potatoes.

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And the customary kimchi. This was fresh, well marinated and not too spicy.

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Salad with thousand island sauce.

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The Chinese style of cuisine (which I grew up with) often broils/stir-fries vegetables, leaving them limp and tasteless unless drenched with sesame oil/soy sauce etc. Which I don’t like. I really prefer fresh, crispy greens. K BBQ serves corral lettuce to go along with the grilled meats. Perfect.

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Spicy marinated octopus. The octopi was sizable and well flavoured with gochujang (hot pepper paste – made from red chilli, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt. The taste is similar to the Japanese miso, but spicier.), although slimy and chewy in the middle.

20160131_194846-tile Wrapping a piece of octopi, topped with a piece of garlic and some sesame oil/more gochujang paste (I can’t get enough of it!) before popping the entire thing in my mouth. Divine

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Our second grilled dish was pork belly. It was kinda oily, but tasty. Good balance of lean and fat. Went the same way as the octopi – dip in sesame/gochujang, wrapped in lettuce leaf and nom.

The bill came up to RM80, which is reasonable since we ordered so many dishes. Good place for Korean food.

Huo Lu Ai Korean BBQ 
D3A, Ground Floor, Block D, Setia Walk Mall, SOHO, Persiaran Wawasan Pusat Bandar Puchong, 47100 Selangor
Tel: +6017 399 7142

PS: Ladies, did I mention that the servers here are all super cute? 😛

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Went over to have some rice wine at C’s house and to play with Genie. She is so light and small.

All You Can Eat Korean Buffet – San Nae Deul, One City USJ

Update 2021: This restaurant is permanently closed.

You know what they say about ‘authentic’ restaurants – they’re the ones serving a customer base made up of that particular cuisine’s ethnic group. So when Grace and I walked into San Nae Deul at One City, USJ, we knew we were in for a good K-BBQ experience. On our left and right were Korean customers jabbering away in their mothertongue as they downed soju and beer with their barbecued meats.

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The outlet was spacious and comfy, with wooden chairs and tables each with their own cooking stove. Posters of Korean artists and Korean products abound everywhere. The lady boss is also Korean, but the servers were Indian. We were served by a rather cute looking North Indian guy with really nice honey-coloured eyes. He even understood some Cantonese lol.

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I finally got to catch up with Grace after more than a year. She had been working in Singapore for a couple of years, so it was hard for us to meet. Now that she’s back for good, expect more hangouts 🙂

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We ordered the BBQ Buffet set for RM40+ per person. They served a variety of banchan (side dishes) and the meat was refillable. My eyes widened when the meat came – it was loaded like a mountain on that plate. There was chicken teriyaki, samgyupsal (pork belly), spicy pork belly, lamb, beef. We didn’t even need to refill anything because the portions were so big. Definitely value for money, especially if you’re a big eater. 

For those who don’t want the buffet, you can order individual meat dishes which are quite pricey (RM30 and above), rice, soup or noodle dishes. I’d recommend getting the buffet because there is a variety of stuff to eat and they’re refillable.

20160113_203045-tile   Beef marinated in a sweet sauce.

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So many banchans. Stir-fried long beans, sweet fried anchovies with nuts, potato chunks in a savoury sauce, spicy fish cakes, kimchi and some sort of gourd veggie in chilli sauce.

Guests can opt for rice, but we didn’t because there seemed to be a lot of food on the table already.

They also give you two bowls of gochujang and fragrant sesame oil, which is used for the meat dipping.

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Banchans were okay.. I don’t eat kimchi (why am I in a Korean resto?), but the rest were decent. Enjoyed the crispy and crunchy anchovies + nuts, even though they were a tad too sweet. Potatoes were boiled well, and the fish cakes were good too.

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All of that would have been enough, but they also dished out a stir-fried glass noodle dish and we didn’t know how to say no .__. This was very good, although the cooking was uneven ie the noodes on the outside were cold (?) while the inside was piping hot. The noodles were bouncy and springy, flavoured well with soy sauce, onions, carrot slices and mushroom.

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Our server cooking the meat for us on the built in stove. It is made in such a way that the smoke doesn’t get into your clothes (which is one of the downsides of eating bbq.. you always leave the place smelling like charred meat).

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The worst part is waiting.. when you’re practically salivating from the smells and sight of cooking meat 🙂

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I reallly liked their chicken, which had a miso flavour to it. Some parts of the pork was overdone and tasteless, but others were marinated well, especially the pork belly which had a nice layering of fat and lean meat. How we eat is by adding a piece of garlic, some gochujang, sesame oil and then wrapping the whole piece in a piece of lettuce before popping it into your mouth. That’s a great way to get me to eat my greens 😛

The bill came up to RM88 for the two of us, which I think is reasonable considering the portions. For big eaters, come here to get a great value for your money!

SAN NAE DEUL 

SkyPark Lot no.B-GF-06, Ground Floor, One City, USJ 25, Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

Tel:016-315-7239

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Just like old times. ❤

This year marks our 12th year of friendship, and I hope, many more to come. 🙂